SPEARFISH — After reviewing a second request from a company looking to open a second dispensary in Spearfish, the city council decided not to amend Ordinance 1364, which stipulates that only one cannabis dispensary may be licensed within city limits.
“By allowing only one, you’re creating a monopoly and that one cannabis store in your town, without competition could drive up the cost to your residents, or worse cause them to leave the town for their prescriptions and encourage a black market that’s currently existing,” urged James Gwynn, with From the Hills LLC, a rival dispensary business registered in Sturgis as he addressed the council during its Dec. 20 meeting.
Earlier in December the Spearfish City Council randomly drew names to select the one and only cannabis dispensary license that would be awarded. The name that was drawn was “Déjà VU SD LLC.” registered to Char Gamble of Spearfish.
Gwynn urged the council to consider not only the permanent population of Spearfish, but also the influx of visitors and students, who pass through that would also need to fill prescriptions.
“Spearfish (is) the largest city (in the Northern Hills) with a 70-mile radius for its retail,” he said.
Although currently there have been no applications turned in to the city finance office for any other cannabis establishments, Gwynn also pointed to the city’s ordinance, which allows for two cultivation, manufacturing, and testing facilities within the city.
“The product produced out of these facilities would be far more than one store could sell. It would have to be sold in other cities and this would benefit the retail sales outside of Spearfish,” he predicted.
The council thanked Gwynn for his input, but could not make any decisions on comments made during the public comment portion of a council meeting.
Gwynn was back on Jan. 18, to again urge the council to reconsider the one dispensary limitation.
During Tuesday’s council meeting, Mayor Dana Boke addressed the council, asking for their input on the matter, but said she’d rather the city continue on it’s current path for the time being.
“My opinion is, we’re still working through the medical marijuana side of it, and we can see what the timing and rules are for recreational, and I think I’m comfortable with where we are,” Boke said.
Senate Bill 3 would allow for the use of recreational marijuana, and is currently making it’s way through the state Legislature having passed the Senate Wednesday. Councilman Scott Hourigan posed the question of how that bill would affect the city’s medical cannabis establishment ordinances should it pass the House and eventually become law.
Spearfish City Attorney Ashley McDonald said any establishments currently in the process of being licensed probably wouldn’t have to start from scratch if recreational marijuana becomes legal, but new regulations and standards would need to be met by those establishments.
“I anticipate there would be different regulations related to recreational marijuana then medical so they probably wouldn’t be able to just step into it,” McDonald answered.
Ultimately, the council agreed that only cannabis dispensary would be enough for Spearfish for the time being, but noted that they would keep an eye toward the market, as marijuana becomes a growing industry in South Dakota.
“I would say let’s stay the course that we had planned and we can always adjust in the future if we need to,” said Councilman Dan Hodgs.
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